The Dogue de Bordeaux (DDB) is sometimes known as the French Mastiff and is nowhere near as ferocious as its outwards appearance would lead the observer to think. In fact these are highly loyal and patient dogs and a popular choice for families.
The history of the breed is unclear and different experts cannot agree on the origins, however, it does appear that the DDB shares some history with the Bullmastiff, Tibetan Mastiff and Bull Dog somewhere along the line.
This breed was once classified into three varieties, the Parisian, the Toulouse and the Bordeaux, types which were bred depending on the region of France and the jobs they were required to do. The regional variations included the size and stature of the types from body and head shape and size to colours and markings.
In 1863 the first canine exhibition was held at the 'Jardin d'Acclimatation' in Paris, France. The winner of the DDB breed was a bitch named Magentas.
This is a dog which was bred and used as a hunter, a herding dog, and a guardian of stock animals. They were trained to bait bears and bulls, hunt boars, herd cattle, and protect the homes, shops and property of their masters.
During the 1960s, a group of enthusiasts of the Dogue de Bordeaux in their native county of France, lead by a gentleman named Raymond Triquet, started to work towards standardsing the breed leading to new standards being agreed upon in the 1970's. Since then, they have continued to grow in popularity particularly in the USA.
Average height to withers: Males between 24-27 inches and females between 23-26 inches.
Average weight: Males can weigh over 50kg and females over 45kg.
This is a large, heavy dog. The body is longer than it is tall and overall it is of a heavy boned appearance and is broad in the chest and deep in the ribs. The Dogue de Bordeaux is a muscular and massive dog with a very powerful build with the size coming from width and muscle, rather than height.
The body of the Dogue de Bordeaux is thick-set with a straight top-line leading to a straight tail thicker at the base and tapering to a point at the end, carried low. The front legs should be straight and heavy-boned. The massive head is the most obvious breed characteristic with breeders saying it has the largest head in the canine world, in proportion to the rest of the body. For males the circumference of the head, measured at the widest point of the skull, is roughly equal to the dog's height at the withers. For females the circumference may be slightly less. The jaw is undershot and very powerful. The DDB should always have a black or red mask that can be distinguished from the rest of the coat around and under the nose, including the lips and eye rims. The nose colour in red masked dogs is usually brown; in black masked dogs this must be black. The upper lips hang thickly down over the lower jaw. The skin on the neck is loose and it has proportionally small, pendant shaped ears top the head.
The coat of the DDB is short and soft and in colour can be fawn, brown or black with a contrasting mask on the face. White is generally no permitted, according to breed standards on the body but can be found on the paws and legs.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is surprisingly even-tempered and gentle, rarely showing unnecessary aggression. It is protective by nature, and ideally suited to work in a guarding capacity given its large size and foreboding appearance. This breed can become very attached and devoted to their family and are generally suited to family life provided they are well socialised when younger. That said, they can be stubborn and dominant if given the chance but are also calm and balanced with it. The DDB is intelligent and is receptive to training with a well structured and firm routine.
While the Douge de Bordeaux is generally a very healthy dog, it does have a shorter lifespan than many breeds as do many larger dog breeds. The average lifespan of a DDB is around 6 years old
The DDB does need a substantial amount of exercise, but as with many shorter nosed breeds, the owner must take care not to let the dog over heat in warmer weather when exercising. The short coat requires little grooming but attention needs to be paid to the areas where there are fold of skin to ensure they are kept clean, dry and free of debris. Some lighter coloured dogs may need extra protection in stronger sun to prevent burning.